NORTH BAY -- The annual Sonoma State University Economic Outlook Conference on Feb. 23, which for nearly two decades has been one of the benchmark events in the North Bay, will include a unique combination of high-level presentations from one of the region's leading economists, the founder of the area's largest natural foods producer and a top state budget official.

They are:Dr. Robert Eyler, Frank Howard Allen Research Fellow in Economics, Professor of Economics; director, Sonoma State’s Executive MBA Program and head of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis. He will issue his widely anticipated annual economic outlook for the North Bay.Andy Berliner, CEO of Petaluma-based Amy's Kitchen, one of the nation's leading natural foods makers and among the largest employers in the North Bay.And, John Chiang, California's controller and one of the key figures in Sacramento's ongoing budget struggle.

"This is a a very rare opportunity to hear from one of the visionaries of the natural foods industry, a sector in which the North Bay holds a strong competitive advantage," Business Journal Editor and Associate Publisher Brad Bollinger said of Mr. Berliner. "And Dr. Eyler's forecast and Controller Chiang's perspectives come at a moment when once again the economy is searching for direction and the state's budget outlook remains uncertain at best."

Other presenters include political consultant Brian Sobel and a panel on the prospects for the entrepreneurial business development including Napa Mayor Jill Techel, Sonoma County BEST Executive Director Carolyn Stark and Remy Gross, director of Technology Transfer for the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

The conference, a collaborative project of SSU and the Business Journal and underwritten by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park. Registration is from 8 to 8:30 with the program following. Cost is $49 per person or a table of 10 for $510, which includes company name on a table sign.

Register by Feb. 17 online at or call Linda Perkins, 707-521-5264.